Tag: 2021 under 17 national championships

Scouting Notes | 2021 U17 National Championships: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro (Game 2)

A FIXTURE adjustment saw the Vic Country and Vic Metro Under 17s face off once more, and it was the Country side which came out on top this time around – claiming a nine-point win in Bendigo. There were a few changes scattered across either side and plenty while the usual suspects continue to impress, others also put their hands up in representative colours. We run through some of the top performers in the latest edition of Scouting Notes, which are the opinion of the individual author.

>> Match Report: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro – Game 2

VIC COUNTRY:

#1 Jacob Konstanty (Gippsland Power)
9/11/2004 | 174cm | Small Forward

After a relatively quiet game in the previous fixture, Konstanty ended the game as Country’s leading goal kicker with three majors – all of which were different from the others, but all equally as exciting as he showed the ability to get goals through multiple avenues. The first goal came as he laid a strong tackle inside forward 50 and converted the shot on a slight angle. His second came as Country moved the ball quickly in transition, with Konstanty the only forward inside 50. He leaped up against two defenders and held the ball strongly above his head despite receiving contact, before slotting the goal from about 45 out. His third and final goal came from a long kick inside 50, where Konstanty managed to nudge his opponent off balance and beat the other defenders in a foot race for the loose ball, and dribbled it through. He had his opportunities to get more goals on the board, but chose to do the team first thing and pass it off to other teammates, even if he was in achievable positions.

#2 Jack O’Sullivan (Oakleigh Chargers)
22/10/2004 | 176cm | Forward/Inside Midfielder

Positioning more up forward than in the midfield, O’Sullivan played a great pressure forwards’ game. His attack on the ball and carrier in the forward half caused rushed disposals or turnovers from the Metro defenders, and quite often he laid some impressive tackles where he’d run in from seemingly nowhere to apply it. Showed some good leaping when he flew for the ball, taking a strong grab overhead early on where he took it at the highest point and followed up with a short kick inboard. He also showed an impressive sense of footy IQ in the second quarter where he got the ball from a teammate, running towards the boundary, then turned on a dime to hit a teammate inside 50 on the chest.

#5 Oliver Hollands (Murray Bushrangers)
16/01/2004 | 182cm | Balanced Midfielder

Continued on from the previous fixture to be one of the best midfielders across the game, with his balance around the contest being a particularly big part of Country’s ability to get the ball forward often. Played well around stoppages, getting his way in front of opponents regularly and putting himself in a spot to win the ball cleanly, but still able to win it when it was a 50-50 and then get a quick handball out to a runner. The fact he found it so easy to keep his hands free when being tackled by opponents made it easier for him to get effective hands out, with his Metro opponents seemingly unable to pin an arm at any time. When playing more of a receiver role through the midfield, his movement around the contests to get into a prime spot for the handball was good, with his follow up burst always catching opponents off guard, allowing him to get free in space and take his time delivering well weighted kicks to his teammates.

#6 Noah Long (Bendigo Pioneers)
23/08/2004 | 178cm | Inside Midfielder/Small Forward

Whilst Long wasn’t necessarily as prolific as he had been the previous week, at least to the eye, he still managed to have a big impact in the win, working hard to get handball receives on the outside to keep Country moving forward. Looked at his best early on in the contest where he continued to do the impressive work with his contested side of the game, and follow up clean handballs. A later move into a more forward role would limit his ball winning opportunities, but allowed him to show off some polish with his kicking that he was missing previously, proving that when in space he can execute some penetrative kicks. Showed good smarts and vision as well, with some switch kicks later in the game allowing Country to ultimately get further up the ground than if he had taken other options.

#7 Max Clohesy (Murray Bushrangers)
12/02/2004 | 179cm | Defender

Playing a watertight defensive game, Clohesy was a consistent hindrance to Metro’s scoring attempts as he worked hard to impact the play in the defensive 50, and followed up strongly in transition to provide an offensive threat as well. Set the tone early in the backline with his rebound kicking looking good up to the wings or down the line, and aggression in collecting loose balls meaning Metro had to hit targets or it would be coming straight back out. Showed some impressive balance in the second quarter where he won the ball at ground level and managed to get his way through a pack of three or four opponents, keeping his feet and coming out the other side to deliver long up the ground for a teammate to run onto. Was measured in his pressing from the backline, never being too far away from his opponent as to let them have the ball uncontested, but also in a spot where he could intercept a rushed Metro kick.

#8 Sam Frangalas (Dandenong Stingrays)
20/04/2005 | 186cm | Midfielder/Forward

After missing selection in the first fixture, Frangalas took no time at all to validate his selection in this game. A strong bodied midfielder, Frangalas excelled with his work below his knees, even when under direct pressure, cleanly picking the ball up off the ground with one grab consistently and following up with quick hands to runners when the option was there, or using his footwork to get around opponents. One moment like this saw Frangalas pick the ball up with pressure form behind, fake one way, then fake the other and go on the third time round, handball to a teammate, then get it back and kick long inside 50. His kicking was also solid despite some errors, especially over long distance as he weighted and placed the kick well for leading teammates.

#9 Cooper Vickery (Gippsland Power)
16/12/2004 | 180cm | Defender

Playing in a similar manner to fellow defender Clohesy, Vickery was a more ‘defend first’ type of player in his approach to the game, although he didn’t allow it to stunt his overall game, as he was still able to impact the play away from his opponent, pushing to create outnumbers and get the ball out long. He contested well aerially and was a reliable intercept option, taking some contested grabs in the defensive 50.

#11 Jhye Clark (Geelong Falcons)
23/07/2004 | 180cm | Inside Midfielder/Defender

Started the game looking like he may have a quieter one than the previous fixture, but worked into it as it went on to have a particularly strong second half. Just did his bread and butter stuff, which covers a lot of desirable traits, with his contested work standing out as he was again difficult to beat one-on-one at ground level, and even harder to bring down in tackles. Continually kept his arms free in congestion to fire off some extremely impressive handballs in close where he released runners into dangerous spots, with one moment in the third quarter catching the eye in particular, where he was being tackled by two opponents and had a third closing in, but he managed to hold his ground and get a handball out to a runner that kick-started a counter attack. His kicking was once again impressive for a player that’s almost always winning the footy in congestion, managing to get through traffic and hit targets laterally or leading at him, but he also chose the right options when in space or kicking from a mark. His marking looked improved from the previous fixture, flying high a few times and holding contested marks above his head, able to get on shoulders on a few occasions as well to get onlookers excited for more. Overall, Clark was arguably best on ground, with his defensive efforts resulting in a few promising Metro plays being stopped in their tracks in the final term.

#14 Jonti Schuback (Gippsland Power)
18/03/2004 | 183cm | Defender/Balanced Midfielder

Making an immediate and consistent impact on the contest, Schuback built on the previous game where he displayed class and composure with ball in hand through the defensive half, winning more of the ball and running through the midfield to show exciting glimpses of his potential. Was clean through traffic early on, finding himself involved in congested plays around the top of the defensive 50 and weaving through traffic to dispose of the ball to free teammates – often putting it in front of leading teammates to run onto, or popping a handball over the top for teammates in close to collect and continue moving forward. Took the majority of the early kick-ins where he was balanced with his decisions, kicking to shorter options when the long ones were covered, but running it out and kicking long when a teammate presented well. Held his marks well, even getting a pack mark on the wing early on in front of four or five opponents. Looked comfortable with his move to the midfield, adding a touch of extra class and composure with his ball use and positioning.

#18 George Stevens (GWV Rebels)
14/04/2005 | 190cm | Defender

Playing a similar role to the previous game, Stevens often found himself as one of the last lines of defence for Country. Where others may have struggled with this role, Stevens thrived with his reactions in transition vital to a few of his intercept marks in the defensive 50 to stop Metro attacks. Used the ball well by foot on his shorter options, not afraid to go through the corridor out of defensive 50, and make himself an option for a follow up kick out wide. Was strong with his tackling and ground level work as well, not being knocked off balance and staying in it until the ball was out of play.

VIC METRO:

#1 Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges)
24/02/2005 | 168cm | Small Forward

The Eastern Ranges livewire forward was active and exciting as ever in the forward half for Metro. Early on in the game, Watson was roving off packs well in the forwardline, hitting the drop zone with speed and quickly handing out when he won it. Flew for a mark on the goalline and held it well, but it was unfortunately called over the line for a behind. Kicked Metro’s first goal when he reacted well to a teammate moving out of congestion, getting separation on the lead, taking it on the chest and converting. Was present without being exceptional in the middle two quarters, getting a few nice touches and impressing with his kicking, but it was his final quarter that stood out the most, as he slotted three of his own goals to almost drag Metro to a victory. All three were good displays of his forward instinct, with the most impressive being his final one as he got it out the back of a pack on the goal line and got boot to ball before an opponent could.

#5 Kai Windsor (Eastern Ranges)
27/01/2004 | 178cm | Wing

Demonstrating his class and elusiveness with the ball, Windsor was a delight to see throughout the contest. Made the wing his own for a large chunk of the game, looking particularly damaging with his attacking plays by foot. Had a moment in the first quarter where he collected a ground ball running towards his defensive goals, gave it off via hand and got it back two times, then turned on a dime and hit a centring kick, showing his composure and elusiveness. Held his space well, highlighted best in the third quarter where he was on the opposite wing to a stoppage on the defensive 50 mark, was used by the clearance winner that placed the ball in front of him, where he collected it at full speed, took a couple of bounces and kicked long inside 50. Whilst he had his flashy plays and impressive kicks, a standout feature of Windsor’s game is his approach to ground balls under pressure, pushing opponents away with his hips to take the ball a little easier and burst away after collecting it.

#10 George Wardlaw (Oakleigh Chargers)
18/06/2004 | 181cm | Inside Midfielder

Wardlaw demonstrated his strength throughout the contest, regularly able to fend off opponents trying to bring him down, or stand up in tackles even when two opponents were hanging off him in an attempt to bring him down. Kept his hands free through congestion as well, letting him release to runners with his quick hands in tight. He won a lot of first possession around stoppages, positioning well to ensure there wasn’t any opposition between himself and the ball, giving him a clean run at it and quickly firing out hands. Was a strong tackler, particularly around stoppages, making it particularly difficult for the inside midfielders from Country to consistently get the ball out after winning first possession off ruck taps.

#13 Paul Pascu (Calder Cannons)
20/08/2004 | 183cm | Defender/Midfielder

Playing in a variety of roles, Pascu looked at his best when given an extended run through the rover role in the final term, where his attack on the footy from the rucks’ hands and in the contest was a big part in Metro’s late scoreboard surge. He was clean with the footy for most of the contest, not looking fazed by pressure or congestion around him to deliver well weighted kicks forward for his teammates to run onto without issue. Was defensively accountable throughout the game, with one particular tackle in the last quarter on the wing proving vital for a late goal, as he got a free kick for holding the ball.

#15 Luke Teal (Oakleigh Chargers)
20/05/2004 | 184cm | Defender/Balanced Midfielder

Starting the game in the defensive 50, Teal was particularly impressive with his contested marking, standing strong and holding the ball over his head multiple times. He drifted off his opponent to take intercept marks in front of packs early on in the game, and followed up with smart ball use by foot, often looking to switch the ball and get Metro taking up space. Moved into the midfield from the third quarter onwards where he had some nice moments with his disposal, with his handballing under pressure particularly impressive from stoppages – able to read the ball well off rucks hands and then quickly fire a handball of his own to the outside. Showed a lot of courage with his tendency to sit under the flight of the ball in an effort to mark it or receive a handball on the full, not flinching even with contact and then releasing the ball quickly.

#16 Elijah Tsatas (Oakleigh Chargers)
18/10/2004 | 184cm | Wing/Half-Back

Already looking like one of the top end prospects for 2022, Tsatas managed to have a major impact throughout the entirety of the contest despite being put into the backline at times, with his burst of speed particularly eye-catching and leading to some exciting plays. That same burst got him separation on the outside really quickly, making him a dangerous runner when given the handball from an inside ball winner, running it the distance before following up with a penetrative kick. His kicking was superb throughout the clash as well, regularly putting it to the advantage of his teammates, or pinpointing it straight to their chest when he could. On the rare occasion he found himself stuck in congestion or in the thick of the contest, his quick hands, and ability to keep them free, meant the ball didn’t get held up – even having a moment where he jumped to collect the ball mid air from a handball, and immediately fired it off to a teammate as he was tackled.

Image Credit: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos

Country evens the ledger with clinical goalkicking display

A clinical goalkicking display from the Vic Country Under 17s has seen them even the ledger against Vic Metro, downing their rivals by nine points at Queen Elizabeth Oval on Monday afternoon. Hosts for a second time running, the Country side made better of their fewer chances on goal, holding off a late Metro surge to win 12.2 (74) to 9.11 (65).

While they had most of the early territory, Metro’s radar was off and Country made them pay. Gippsland Power small forward Jacob Konstanty was involved in the game’s first two goals, first catching Zac Greeves cold in a run-down tackle, and then using a downfield free kick to pass off to Zane Duursma. When Henry Hustwaite made good on another inside 50 free kick, Country were three goals in the ascendancy. Nick Watson, who had a bunch of chances for Metro, finally replied with less than five minutes on the clock, ensuring Elijah Tsatas’ classy delivery inside 50 would not be wasted. Still, Metro trailed by seven points at the first break.

It was more of the same during term two on the scoreboard, with Country able to capitalise much more frequently. They booted five goals to Metro’s one, including the last four, with two of them coming via some brilliant Konstanty forward craft. Country’s ability to hit the leading talls inside 50 was terrific, as were the resultant conversions from Felix Fogarty and Olivier Northam at range. Matthew Jefferson was Metro’s sole form of scoring resistance and moved well for a player of his 193cm frame. His side still trailed by 28 points at half time, despite having two more scoring shots than Country.

Country looked like well and truly running away with it when George opened the scoring after half time, with the function of his side’s forwardline proving difficult to combat. Jaxon Binns’ eye-catching dribbler signalled party time, with the momentum only halted by Kai Windsor’s 50m penalty conversion for Metro. As they had done all day, Country hit back with an instant reply with Northam’s second major, before adding another for good measure to lead by 46 points heading into the last break – with only one more scoring shot.

It seemed as if the sting was well and truly out of the game during term four, with Metro taking eight minutes to get on the board and mount their fightback. But when it rains, it pours, and the visiting side slammed on a further five unanswered goals to finish in a flurry. Watson capped off the game with three in the quarter, finishing with a game-high four majors – though it was to no avail.

Jhye Clark was again a force in the Country midfield and around the ground, along with skipper Oliver Hollands and Noah Long. Classy defender Jonti Schuback provided his usual drive out of the back half before roaming further afield, while Konstanty (three goals) was a menace inside forward 50.

Watson was among Metro’s best and the spark for his side’s fightback, but it was George Wardlaw who started plenty of chains with his tough work in midfield. Tsatas used the ball beautifully from the wing and half-back, as did Paul Pascu and the productive Kai Windsor. Having made a promising start to the game, Will Ashcroft was not used after half time.

VIC COUNTRY 3.0 | 8.0 | 12.1 | 12.2 (74)
VIC METRO 1.5 | 2.8 | 3.9 | 9.11 (65)

GOALS:

Vic Country: J. Konstanty 3, B. George 2, O. Northam 2, Z. Duursma, H. Hustwaite, F. Fogarty, J. Binns, S. Frangalas
Vic Metro: N. Watson 4, M. Jefferson, K. Windsor, C. Harvey, A. Tsia, B. Drury

BEST:

Vic Country: J. Clark, J. Schuback, C. Vickery, J. Konstanty, O. Hollands, N. Long
Vic Metro: N. Watson, G. Wardlaw, E. Tsatas, H. O’Keefe, K. Windsor, P. Pascu

Image Credit: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos

Scouting Notes | 2021 U17 National Championships: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro

VIC Metro won out in Saturday’s Under 17 Victorian derby, powering away with the last seven goals of the game to defeat Vic Country by 34 points at GMHBA Stadium. The hard-fought contest and exciting bursts of scoring allowed a number of budding 2022 draft prospects to shine, with 10 of the top performers from either side featuring in our Scouting Notes. Each note is the opinion of the individual author.

>> Match Report: Vic Metro def. Vic Country

Vic Country:

By: Declan Reeve

#2 Jack O’Sullivan (Oakleigh Chargers)
22/10/2004 | 176cm | Forward/Midfielder

Predominantly playing across the half-forward line with some stints through the midfield, O’Sullivan impressed with his ferociousness on the ball and opponent alike, throwing himself into the thick of every contest he was around. With pressure forwards worth their weight in gold at the next level, O’Sullivan marked himself as one to watch for the 2022 draft, repeatedly laying tackles or forcing opponents to rush their disposal with his pressure. A really impressive aspect of his game is how quickly he can get up off the ground after being brought down or laying a tackle himself, almost striding himself back up to try and win the spilled ball. Despite standing at just 176cm, he made himself an aerial threat, taking an impressive contested mark on the half-forward line against a bigger opponent.

#5 Oliver Hollands (Murray Bushrangers)
16/01/2004 | 182cm | Balanced Midfielder

Like his older brother, Gold Coasts’ Elijah, Oliver was a key part of the Country team, playing across all lines throughout the four quarters to prove himself a versatile and consistently impactful prospect. What was evident almost immediately with Hollands was his cleanliness with the ball and below his knees, able to take clean pick-ups off of packs, even when under pressure, and follow up with a clean handball to a teammate or kick forward. He looked at his best when he was attending centre bounces in the second half, where he just consistently got to the fall of the ball off the rucks’ hands, even when he had specific attention from Metro, battling for front position and putting himself in an area where he could run straight onto the ball and not worry about pressure coming from the other way. Had a few eye catching moments with his zip and agility away from stoppages, particularly with a moment in the second quarter where he got past two opponents with two side-steps, despite being right up on the boundary. It wasn’t all offensive from Hollands either having started the game on the wing, where he didn’t win a heap of it early, but still impacted with tackling and high defensive work rate, diving to smother a few kicks off the boot at times.

#6 Noah Long (Bendigo Pioneers)
23/08/2004 | 178cm | Inside Midfielder

Playing a style not too dissimilar to 2020 AFL Rising Star winner, Fremantle’s’ Caleb Serong, Long was a bull and consistent ball winner on the inside throughout the entire contest. One of the few players on ground to play midfield pretty much all game, it wasn’t hard to understand why the Country coaches wanted to keep him there as much as possible. Long won the first clearance of the day, setting the tone early with his ferociousness in the contest, pushing past opponents to get first hands on the ball. Unsurprisingly, as an insider midfielder Long’s hands in close were exceptional, able to quickly fire out handballs to release runners even when being brought to ground. Those quick hands translate to his kicking as well, able to pick the ball up off the ground cleanly and then put it on his boot in one action. Although at times his kicking was rushed and didn’t look pretty, he got distance behind it, pulling out the barrel a couple of times. He was part of the early scoreboard pressure Country applied in the third quarter, taking a contested mark above his head and slotting it from about 30 out, showing that when given time he can kick really well. Appointed the Country co-captain alongside Hollands, it was good to see him be directive and vocal with his teammates throughout the contest.

#11 Jhye Clark (Geelong Falcons)
23/07/2004 | 180cm | Inside Midfielder

Looking far more imposing than his 180cm frame would suggest, Clark was arguably the most impressive of the contested ball winning brigade for the game. At times looking like recent Geelong Falcons graduate Tanner Bruhn with his inside work and follow up clean ball use, it was truly amazing what Clark managed to do with the ball under so much pressure. Like a lot of inside midfielders, his quick handballing and cleanliness at ground level was top notch, picking it up with one hand under pressure at times, not being knocked off balance or brought down by heavy contact from opponents. His kicking was also impressively clean, whilst sometimes not pretty, it was always weighted well to the advantage of his teammates. One of his more impressive kicks came when he received a handball under pressure at the top of the centre square, stood up and broke free from a tackle, then composed himself and laced it out to a teammate laterally off one step, in front of him so he could keep his opponent away from it. He won a lot of clearances around the ground, with the one impressing the most being deep inside defensive 50, where he took the ball in the air off the rucks’ hands, at full stretch, and handballed off to a runner straight away.

#13 Zane Duursma (Gippsland Power)
28/08/2005 | 185cm | Medium Utility

Being thrown about positionally, starting in defence, moving forward and then getting on the wing, 2023 draft prospect Duursma looked classy and composed throughout, taking any challenge that came his way with both hands. What stood out most in his defensive role was his cleanliness at ground level and composure under pressure, taking the ball off the ground well and finding good options by hand, even in the middle of packs. There was one particular chain of play where he gave a handball off, got it back, and handballed again where the ball didn’t hit the target he wanted, but he won it off the ground in a pack and then handballed out to a runner. Duursma kicked a goal up forward in the second quarter that was as straight as you can kick a footy.

#14 Jonti Schuback (Gippsland Power)
18/03/2004 | 183cm | Half-Back/Wing

Schuback was a consistently classy user of the footy out of the backline and on the wing throughout the game. Being trusted with the kick-ins in the first and final quarters, Schuback would regularly run the ball out of the square a good 20 meters, and then kick it 40-50 out wide to give the Country defence time to reset, whilst often putting the ball in an area that his teammates could take advantage of and launch attacks. Schuback was proactive with switch kicks in the defensive half as well, running to spots just laterally or slightly behind the ball carrier to get free, mark it and launch it forward with his speed and penetration.

#16 Harley Reid (Bendigo Pioneers)
17/04/2005 | 182cm | Half-Back

Reid switch from his usual role up forward or on a wing to play in defence, and played the role well. The 2005-born speedster made life difficult for the Metro small forwards, with that speed meaning he could close down distance between himself and anyone going for a mark to get there and create a contest. Despite being one of the youngest on ground, he was one of the more effective ball users, extremely composed and able to put his kicks to the advantage of teammates up the line or on the short 45 options. It was clear the coaching team knew this as well, giving him kick-in responsibilities when Schuback wasn’t in the backline, where he also would run the ball out and kick long to advantage. One of the more impressive parts of Reid’s game was how strong his tackling was, taking on some of the 195cm plus prospects and bringing them to ground without any issue.

#22 Ned Moodie (Dandenong Stingrays)
31/03/2004 | 188cm | Medium Utility

Gradually moving further up the ground as the game went on, Moodie was particularly impactful when playing in the backline and midfield in the first half of the clash. His strength and consistency above his head were impressive, taking a few contested marks or holding bullet-like kicks that many others would have struggled to hold with one grab. He’d utilise this often in every position he played, with his patrolling of the centre corridor meaning he was used as an inboard option when he got free. He showed a good amount of game smarts, faking a handball to distract his opponent on the mark and then kicking long forward a couple of times. One such moment lead to Country’s second goal. He kicked a goal when up forward, managing to get free of an opponent and mark well in front. 

#30 Harvey Howe (Gippsland Power)
26/10/2004 | 200cm | Ruck

Just played an extremely consistent but pivotal role in Country’s early midfield wins, and continued to win hitouts as the game went on, even if Metro midfielders started to rove his taps. He battled well for front position around the ground and followed up on his taps when there weren’t any Country midfielders in a position to win it, where he displayed some good pick-ups at times.

Vic Metro:

By: Ed Pascoe

#1 Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges)
24/02/2005 | 168cm | Small Forward/Wing

The zippy small forward came in off a strong NAB League debut and showed why he gained Vic Metro representation despite his 168cm stature. The 2023 prospect from Eastern Ranges was a live-wire up forward, creating headaches with his speed and smarts around the ball. Watson is a natural footballer, knowing when to pop up at the right times and creating opportunities up forward with tackling pressure and timely smothers. He also has some nice athletic traits, jumping at packs for an unlikely mark or dancing around opponents with ease, highlighting both traits in the third quarter. Although Watson didn’t hit the scoreboard, a great smother in the third term set up one for his team – expect the scores to come as Watson has a nose for goals which he showed the week before at NAB League level.

#3 Blake Drury (Oakleigh Chargers)
11/01/2004 | 176cm | Midfielder

The Vic Metro captain set the tone early, showing great workrate and smarts through the midfield. The Oakleigh Chargers prospect is a smaller type at 176cm, but his stature didn’t effect his ability to win the hard ball at stoppages and win plenty of clearances as well. You could see why Drury was made captain, as he displayed workrate and toughness but was also vocal at stoppages and got around his teammates in that way. Drury was clean with the ball and while his disposal by foot was often pressured and not overly clean, with time and space he didn’t have many problems with his disposal.

#5 Kai Windsor (Eastern Ranges)
27/04/2004 | 178cm | Wing/Small Forward

Spending some time on the wing and then forward, the 178cm Eastern Ranges prospect didn’t necessarily win the most of the ball or kick the most goals, but he just showed little signs in every quarter that he is a player to keep an eye on. Windsor showed plenty of speed and workrate on the wing and often looked quick and composed with ball in hand, always looking to create. Windsor had some great plays in the third quarter, with a lovely mark inside 50 showing his prowess overhead and a lovely goal on the run after balking an opponent showing his craftiness.

#6 Cooper Harvey (Northern Knights)
12/07/2004 | 179cm | Forward

The son of a gun Harvey didn’t have a productive game for the first three quarters, but got off the leash in the last quarter,  kicking two goals by getting into good spots for some marks inside 50. He nailed his set shots, although he missed one of them he could have easily kicked it to finish with three late goals. The Northern Knights prospect is already a bit taller than his old man, Brent at 179cm and plays a different style. Hopefully gets a run in the midfield as well in the later games of these Under 17 championships.

#8 Darcy Edmends (Northern Knights)
28/05/2004 | 180cm | Wing

The classy wingman from the Northern Knights, Edmends was able to show his ability as a smooth mover. Although his disposal wasn’t to his best standards early on, he grew into the game and adjusted to the pace, and then his skillset really started to shine. As classy and smooth as he looks, he also showed a tough side to his game by going back with the flight to take a nice mark in defence in the second quarter. Although it wasn’t one of his better outings, Edmends still showed signs of his talent as the 180cm midfielder looks to have a strong championships going forward.

#10 George Wardlaw (Oakleigh Chargers)
18/06/2004 | 181cm | Inside Midfielder

The tough inside midfielder from Oakleigh Chargers took a little bit of time to get going but after half time he was right up there with Ashcroft as the most influential midfielder afield, with his desperation to win the ball and put on pressure a real highlight. Wardlaw showed plenty on the inside with his burst from congestion separating from the pack, but despite his contested nature was also composed with ball in hand and often released teammates into better positions. Wardlaw’s desperation was on display in the third quarter with a great second effort and smother, while also showing some great work in a marking contest against highly fancied player Ollie Hollands, convincingly taking the contested mark. It was a strong showing for Wardlaw who would add a goal as reward for effort in the last quarter, recieving the hard ball and settling to kick a lovely goal on the run.

#12 Will Ashcroft (Sandringham Dragons)
6/05/2004 | 183cm | Midfielder

The Brisbane Lions father-son prospect plying his trade at Sandringham Dragons showed why he is considered one of the best prospects for the 2022 draft with a dominant display in the midfield. Ashcroft showed a great mix of toughness, class and flashy play, with his toughness on show in the first quarter going back with the flight and getting back up quickly to go again. The second quarter is where he kicked his first of two goals with a lovely long range finish hard on the boundary which he would somehow outdo in the last quarter, bursting away to kick another long range goal. That same burst was a highlight in his clearance work too, which included classy clearances to go with some gritty bull-like wins. With 33 disposals, 11 clearances and two goals, it was by far the best performance not only for this game but for the whole Round 1 of the Under 17 championships.

#13 Paul Pascu (Calder Cannons)
20/08/2004 | 183cm | Medium Defender/Midfielder

The tough 183cm Calder Cannons prospect started strongly in defence, showing plenty of drive and taking the game on with ball in hand, while also attacking the contest in the air. Usually a midfielder for Calder, Pascu was able to show his versatility for Metro as a defender but he would go on to get some midfield time later in the game and showed how handy he can be in his preferred position. A great chase down tackle in the midfield in the last quarter and a strong shrugged tackle in the third showcased his toughness and willingness to take the game on. The powerful left-footer has started the championships strongly.

#14 Harry Sheezel (Sandringham Dragons)
13/10/2004 | 183cm | Forward

The classy and damaging forward from Sandringham Dragons was influential early on with a lovely rove from a forward stoppage, kicking a nice snap goal in the process, He showed plenty of agility whenever he had possession, getting around opponents with ease. Sheezel managed his second goal in the second quarter from a free kick, but his third in the third quarter was another special goal, roving a ruck tap and kicking the ball seemingly over his head. He had more opportunities to convert in the last quarter but he did well to set up others and provide a nice marking option as well. The 183cm prospect has a few tricks as a forward and is proving to be one of the more difficult match-ups in this year’s championships.

#16 Elijah Tsatas (Oakleigh Chargers)
18/10/2004 | 184cm | Wing

Returning from a collarbone injury earlier in the year, the Oakleigh Chargers prospect has been on the comeback trail, making his NAB League debut the previous week. Although the exciting midfielder excels at stoppages, he made the wing position his own, getting better as the game went on by using his speed and clean hands. The second half is where Tsatas really started to make an impact, offering plenty of run and carry and link up from half-back to half-forward. He also got to showcase his class, taking a running bounce and nailing a nice goal from 45m. Tsatas was at his damaging best in the last quarter with plenty of quality kicks inside 50 leading to goals, with Cooper Harvey the beneficiary on two occasions. A promising first up game for Tsatas, who can hopefully get some time in the centre in the upcoming fixtures.

Image Credit: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos

Metro powers away from Country to kick off Under 17 campaign in style

VIC METRO piled on the last seven goals of the game to kick away from Vic Country, winning by 34 points in their AFL Under 17 National Championship opener at GMHBA Stadium. The visitors were tested as Country snuck ahead during the second term, but Metro had all the answers to kick off their campaign on the right note.

Metro made the better start, with its brigade of classy ball winners getting to work and setting their side on the front foot. Evasive Sandringham Dragons forward Harry Sheezel made the territory count, snapping home the game’s opening goal with class. The middle of the term was owned by Country, who got on top via back-to-back Brayden George majors, as the Murray product proved troublesome with his aerial play. Metro tall Matthew Jefferson gave the visitors a quarter time lead, making good on his second set shot to edge ahead by two points at the first break.

Brisbane fans would have enjoyed the opening major in term two, as father-son prospect Will Ashcroft slammed home a terrific goal from the elbow of Metro’s forward 50. The buffer remained intact throughout a short stalemate, until Ned Moodie snuck forward to mark uncontested and hit back for Country. The goal-for-goal trend continued, with majors to Sheezel and Zane Duursma at either end seeing the margin remain identical at the main break, with Metro two points to the good.

While an icy Geelong breeze wafted across GMHBA Stadium, the action heated up with a flurry of early goals after half time. Noah Long rose inside 50 and put Country ahead, kicking the first of three goals within four minutes. A 10-minute lull followed, before Metro sparked to life with three late goals to retake the lead, sparked by Elijah Tsatas’ effort on the run. The gap was out to eight points with the last lot of 23 minutes to play, thanks to Sheezel’s third major just before the three quarter time siren.

Carrying on their third quarter momentum, Metro inflicted a shutout to finish the game, adding four goals to Country’s nil. George Wardlaw was one to lift in the second half, and got Metro running once again with a classy conversion on the move. North Melbourne father-son hopeful Cooper Harvey also popped up for a couple of late scoreboard contributions, while Ashcroft sealed his best afield performance with a second goal.

While Ashcroft was the most consistent performer across the day, Wardlaw lifted during the second half and skipper Blake Drury worked hard to round out Metro’s midfield mix. Tsatas was another to exert some of his pace and skill after half time on the wing, while Sheezel finished with a game-high three goals as the game’s most productive forward.

Long and Jhye Clark battled hard through midfield for Country, eventually joined at the centre bounces by Oliver Hollands. Big man Harvey Howe was dominant in the ruck battle, and Harley Reid had his moments playing off half-back as Country returned a solid team spread overall.

Both sides will be back in action for Round 2 up in Queensland on July 6, with Vic Metro taking on fellow Round 1 victors South Australia, while Western Australia will be Country’s opponent at Metricon Stadium.

VIC COUNTRY 2.1 | 4.2 | 7.3 | 7.4 (46)
VIC METRO 2.3 | 4.4 | 8.5 | 12.8 (80)

GOALS:

Vic Country: B. George 2, Z. Duursma, N. Long, N. Moodie, J. Konstanty, F. Fogarty.
Vic Metro: H. Sheezel 3, W. Ashcroft 2, C. Harvey 2, M. Jefferson, D. Harvey, E. Tsatas, K. Windsor.

DC BEST:

Vic Country: J. Clark, O. Hollands, N. Long, H. Reid, H. Howe, J. Schuback
Vic Metro: W. Ashcroft, G. Wardlaw, E. Tsatas, H. Sheezel, B. Drury, K. Windsor

Scouting Notes | 2021 Under 17 National Championships: South Australia vs. Western Australia

SOUTH Australia and Western Australia kicked off the 2021 Under 17 National Championships in style, playing to a three-point thriller at Hisense Stadium on Sunday. It was the Croweaters who came out on top after leading at every break, though they were truly made to earn the victory. WA had snuck ahead for an unlikely late lead via Mitch Williams‘ second final-term goal, but the ascendancy was short-lived as SA tall forward Isaac Keeler snapped home the winning goal with six minutes left to play. Early inaccuracy, and a late miss on the run from Luke Brown ultimately came back to haunt the Sandgropers, as they went down 8.8 (56) to 7.11 (53) in an enthralling carnival opener.

FINAL SCORES:

SOUTH AUSTRALIA 3.2 | 4.4 | 6.6 | 8.8 (56)
WESTERN AUSTRALIA 0.4 | 2.7 | 4.7 | 7.11 (53)

GOALS:

SA: J. Delean 3, I. Keeler 2, L. Slade, M. Phillipou, H. Barnett
WA: K. Sanchez 2, M. Williams 2, J. Scaife, L. Brown, J. Cleaver

DC BEST:

SA: A. D’Aloia, N. Sadler, J. Delean, K. Ryan, J. Magor, W. Patton
WA: D. Curtin, A. Condon, S. Gilbey, J. Cleaver, J. Busslinger, K. Sanchez

SCOUTING NOTES

South Australia:

By: Michael Alvaro

#1 Max Blacker (North Adelaide)
169cm/61kg | 2/07/2004 | Midfielder

A productive part of South Australia’s midfield rotation, particularly during the first half, Blacker got his hands on the ball plenty of times. He proved busy at the contest, getting to ground balls to win his own possessions, but also providing an option to receive and break to the outer. His disposal by foot was a little rushed under the early pressure, but the diminutive North Adelaide midfielder straightened up and was really lively going forward at times. Blacker finished with 18 touches in a solid outing with plenty to build on.

#8 Jack Delean (South Adelaide)
179cm/65kg | 15/04/2005 | Forward

A prospect likened to Isaac Heeney, Delean is terrific aerially for a player standing at 179cm and has fantastic forward smarts. He was stationed almost exclusively inside attacking 50 and did not need too many opportunities to make an impact, booting a game-high three goals. He started brightly, snaring the opening major with a sharp snap, before adding a second in the first quarter from a holding free kick 20m out. He was a touch quieter during the middle periods of the contest, but would come to life in patches, looking dangerous whenever the ball entered his area. Delean also rose to take a couple of eye-catching pack marks, and booted his third goal at the start of the final term, thanks to some persistent work from Jaiden Magor at half-forward.

#9 Nick Sadler (Sturt)
179cm/66kg | 8/01/2004 | Balanced Midfielder

Lauded for his inside/outside balance in midfield, Sadler operated on both sides of the contest to good effect and was one of SA’s most prolific ball winners with 22 touches. The Sturt product looked really smooth on the ball when released on the outer, able to run it forward and utilise his clean kicking skills. He got particularly busy during the third term, where his stints on the wing allowed him to drop back and help the defence to generate some rebound. In the same term, he would be sighted running back with the fight for a good mark at forward wing, before getting a couple more centre bounce rotations and faring well.

#10 Kobe Ryan (West Adelaide)
182cm/68kg | 17/02/2004 | Defender

Ryan is a versatile prospect whose skills are transferable to many roles, and half-back was his given station on Sunday. His ability to accumulate possessions saw him finish with 17 disposals and seven rebound 50s, with which he was able to showcase his mix of clean and penetrative kicking skills. The West Adelaide prospect was usually assured in his decision making and really warmed to the contest, getting busy after half time and putting in some big efforts over the ball throughout the dying stages.

#16 Jaiden Magor (South Adelaide)
185cm/77kg | 16/02/2004 | Forward

Like Ryan, Magor was squeezed out of the SA midfield and onto his secondary half-forward post, where his physicality and ball use heading towards goal really shone. He registered an early score by hitting the post with a 45m set shot, though a lot of his work was done further afield as the South Adelaide prospect worked hard to link his side into attacking 50. Magor’s midfield nous came to the fore with some tough ball winning work, able to burst through traffic and shrug tackles with real tenacity. Those traits helped directly assist two vital final term goals for SA; with the first a paddling effort at half-forward to win the ball and kick long to Delean, while the second saw him get a handball off to Isaac Keeler amid two tackles, helping put the Croweaters back in front. Overall, he played his role brilliantly and brought great intent.

#18 Will Patton (West Adelaide)
193cm/71kg | 4/01/2005 | Defender

Another of the well-performed 2005-born prospects, Patton proved to be South Australia’s general down back with his intercept and rebounding abilities. He positioned well to cut off a number of West Australian attacks, working back and across to mark overhead and judging the ball well in flight when doing so. The 16-year-old often commanded front position and with such strong marking, proved quite effective in that role. He also showed a good willingness to move the ball on quickly and set SA going on the rebound. Patton finished with a promising 10 disposals and four rebound 50s.

#20 Mattaes Phillipou (Woodville-West Torrens)
188cm/79kg | 27/12/2004 | Forward

One of the many good athletes afield and another with the fabled basketball background, Phillipou showed plenty of promise up forward. He came to life during a second quarter purple patch, presenting well at half-forward and contesting a series of high balls against multiple opponents at a time. While he was not always able to cleanly take a mark, Phillipou leaned on his athleticism to recover best, win the spillage and show good intent to keep the ball moving forward. The Eagles talent also kicked a nice goal in the third term, winning a two-on-two spill deep inside 50 and snapping home over his shoulder.

#21 Adam D’Aloia (Woodville-West Torrens)
184cm/84kg | 9/04/2004 | Midfielder

Arguably the best player afield, certainly in South Australian colours, D’Aloia was exceptional with his work around the contest. He racked up a game-high 30 disposals, including nine clearances and nine inside 50s as he held sway at most stoppages. The Eagles product used his mature frame to bullock his way to the ball and work a clear path out, either dishing cleanly to runners or booting a long kick forward. He was a consistent ball winner throughout the contest and proved difficult to combat with his physicality, which he used in a clutch late moment. D’Aloia sealed the game with a desperate tackle in the last 30 seconds, winning the ball back for SA inside defensive 50 and helping them hold on for victory.

#25 Isaac Keeler (North Adelaide)
197cm/83kg | 23/04/2004 | Key Forward

The Adelaide Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect is already one of the more highly touted talls in next year’s crop, and showed a little bit of just why that is the case on Sunday. He was employed up forward and got busy close to goal, not only competing aerially but also using his speed to follow up at ground level. Posing a dual threat with such athleticism, Keeler used his superior reach to mark and convert a major from the goalsquare in term two, before again using his pace to gain good separation on the lead when working further afield. He ended up booting the winning goal for SA, receiving off Magor’s hard ball win and snapping home with pure class. All up, Keeler finished with 13 disposals, five marks and two goals to his name.

#30 Brodie Tuck (Central District)
193cm/90kg | 6/12/2004 | Key Defender

Another strong intercept marker in defence, Tuck’s solidity across the backline helped his side get on top early and stay there. He read the play beautifully to get into good spots, before rising to clunk marks overhead with courage and clean hands. The Centrals talent was not always in the thick of things, but popped up with such moments to make his mark and bring a cool head to SA’s defensive work – especially on some of WA’s fast breaks.

Western Australia:

By: Ed Pascoe

#2 Jed Hagan (East Fremantle)
174cm/71kg | 15/10/04 | Wing/Forward

Not the most prolific game from the usually prolific, though Hagan he made his touches count and his toughness served him well whenever he went for the ball. A shoulder concern has kept him out of the midfield rotations, which is where he plays his best football, and half-back was WA’s strength in this lineup, seeing Hagan shifted to the wing and half-forward. Although they aren’t preferred positions for Hagan, he at least got to show some versatility and his seven tackles showed his willingness to provide pressure and toughness.

#4 Koen Sanchez (East Fremantle)
179cm/59kg | 19/01/2005 | Wing/Forward

Not eligible until the 2023 draft, the East Fremantle product was a quick and elusive player for WA, spending time on the wing and proving a menace around goals with his speed and creativity. Sanchez showed natural football smarts with some skill and speed to match, which made him a real headache for the opposition. At 179cm and only 59kg, Sanchez has plenty of upside and with 17 disposals and two goals, he was one of his side’s most influential players, looking like one of WA’s most exciting players for the 2023 draft.

#8 Conrad Williams (Claremont)
182cm/62kg | 30/11/2004 | Wing

A quick and smooth moving wingman, Williams showed plenty of exciting traits as a Fremantle NGA prospect a player to watch in the coming years. Williams made the wing position his own, offering plenty of run and carry to show a great mix of speed and agility, as he made getting past opponents look like a cakewalk. He was one of the many Claremont products to play in what continues to be a strong breeding ground for potential draft prospects.

#12 Tyzreise Clark (Subiaco)
183cm/72kg | 29/01/2005 | Forward/Midfielder

An impactful forward who can also go through the midfield, Clark has some swagger about his football – playing with a strong burst and confidence whenever he goes for the ball. A year younger than most of his peers being available for the 2023 draft, the Subiaco prospect has tremendous upside and you can only imagine the improvement left in him on the lead-up to his draft year. Clark didn’t win a stack of the ball but his confidence and balance with ball in hand made him look like a future star.

#14 Sam Gilbey (Claremont)
185cm/67kg | 14/05/2004 | Defender

A quick and elusive mover who was the lightest-bodied defender for WA, Gilbey could barely be touched with his athleticism and was more than comfortable in the air against bigger and stronger opponents. Gilbey looks to have tremendous upside with some great athleticism and a light frame to be built upon. His skills on his favoured left boot and his confidence under pressure really impressed, with the 185cm prospect proving to be one of Claremont’s best talents going into the 2022 draft.

#17 Luke Michael (West Perth)
185cm/83kg | 19/03/2004 | Defender

Part of the strong defensive lineup for WA, Michael was tough and composed down back, able to intercept mark and also provide plenty of run and drive from defence. Michael complimented his teammates well, with the West Perth prospect able to show a good mix of attacking flair with his willingness to take the game on, but also show courage in the air and defend hard when he needed to. It was difficult to stand out with so many WA defenders having great games, but Michael held his own and should build confidence to take on the Victorian sides in July.

#20 Jack Cleaver (East Fremantle)
187cm/83kg | 22/05/2004 | Utility

A tough and skilful player from East Fremantle, Cleaver has a no frills approach to his football. He cracked in hard but also showed plenty of skill and composure –  especially by foot – as one of the many talented left-footers for WA. Starting in defence, he showed plenty with those aforementioned traits and with the game on the line in the last quarter, he was moved into the middle while also drifting forward to have an impact by kicking a nice goal. Cleaver would go on to finish with 19 disposals and be amongst the main ball winners for his side.

#28 Jess Busslinger (East Perth)
195cm/83kg | 11/03/2004 | Key Defender

Playing more like a tall back flanker, the rangy 195cm defender read the play well in defence and showed a lot of composure with ball in hand, working hard to spread to attack from defence. Busslinger had an incredible 18 marks, with his best coming late in the game with a telling contested mark to give his side an opportunity at a late goal and the win. The East Perth tall has started the carnival in fine form with a team high 28 disposals.

#30 Daniel Curtin (Claremont)
190cm/86kg | 8/03/2005 | Defender

An intercept marking machine for WA, the Claremont-based prospect read the ball well in the air and was clean and classy with his marking and disposal, certainly looking a prospect for the 2023 draft. The 190cm left-footer was undersized against the tall SA forwardline, but more than held his own with his impressive leap and judgment overhead. An incredible mark in the third quarter just highlighted his talent and was one of 10 marks he had for the day. It will be interesting to see how much growth Curtin has left, to see if he becomes a genuine key defender by the time the 2023 draft comes around.

#40 Alex Condon (Claremont)
201cm/78kg | 25/07/2004 | Ruck

The talented ruckman from Claremont who is also a talented basketballer, Condon showcased his great leap and deft touch in the ruck in a great contest with highly regarded SA ruckman, Will Verrall. Condon’s clear athletic traits were on display, showing that leap not only in ruck contests, but also around the ground as he flew for a nice mark to prove he could be a handy forward prospect as well. Condon has plenty of upside and with those athletic traits and with 12 disposals and 23 hitouts, he has shown to be one of the leading ruck prospects for the 2022 draft.

Scouting Notes: 2021 Vic Metro vs. Vic Country Under 17 trials

WITH the NAB League Under 17 carnival done and dusted, the best performers from each region came together on Friday to compete in two trial games. The pair of scratch matches, held at Trevor Barker Oval, will help determine the final Vic Country and Vic Metro Under 17 squads set to compete at this year’s National Championships.

Vic Country snared wins in both games, though the focus will be on which individuals made claims for representative honours. That is also the case in our Scouting Notes, which are the opinion of each individual author.

GAME ONE:

Vic Country 12.7 (79) def. Vic Country 8.15 (63)

By: Declan Reeve

Vic Country:

#3 Will Baker (Geelong Falcons)

Was a consistent workhorse in the forward half for Country, looking to get into good areas to be a marking option, where he was spoiled a few times by his opponent but comprehensively beat them with the follow up work at ground level, beforegetting it forward with his boot. The workrate translated to his tackling as well, able to bring down bigger opponents or hold them up to cause a stoppage. Finished the day with two goals, with one of those being an impressive effort, as he sold some candy to his opponent before kicking it well straight through the big sticks.

#4 Zane Duursma (Gippsland Power)

Another brother of an AFL-listed player, this time being Port Adelaide’s Xavier Duursma, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they’re the same player, with Zane also a hard-working runner with clean disposal. He genuinely did not miss a target for the game, with his kicking the standout on field, looking to utilise the width of the ground with switch kicks, but also happy to take those riskier inside 45 kicks and always having them pay off. Being a 2023 draft eligible prospect, you’d expect that his size would be a hindrance against the bigger bodies, but when moved from the wing to the inside role, Duursma took it in his stride, winning a couple of clearances with well timed runs and following up with perfect delivery.

#5 Oliver Hollands (Murray Bushrangers)

The brother of recently-drafted Gold Coast player, Elijah Hollands, Oliver showed that he possesses perhaps equally impressive athletic traits and midfield craft than his older brother. He won the very first clearance of the game, where he got away from his direct opponent, and then outran the other two Metro mids to kick well inside 50 and set up Country’s first goal. That sort of burst and skill continued to be on display throughout the contest. His work rate was immense, with some particularly good defensive work in-close where he intercepted a few handballs from Metro, that were only going from a player 2 meters away from their intended target, and then pumped the ball long forward before he could be wrapped up and brought to ground. Also like his brother, he is impactful forward of centre, taking some good grabs in the forward half and getting himself a goal in the first quarter.

#6 Noah Long (Bendigo Pioneers)

Earning comparisons to AFL Rising Star Winner Caleb Serong from onlookers, it’s not hard to see why Long recieved such high praise. Despite being shorter than most of the opposing midfielders, Long was consistently harder at it on the inside and came off best most times when the ball was contested. Something that really stuck, was he seemed to want to run through packs rather than just run in and win the ball, with his ferociousness meaning he often succeeded and then disposed of it quickly by hand to the outside. Unsurprisingly, this was all paired with possibly the highest defensive workrate on the ground, running both ways and often seen deep in defence to help out his team, with his strong tackling and physicality troubling Metro.

#12 Bailey Humphrey (Gippsland Power)

Really came into the game in the second half where he was a strong defensive presence in the midfield, putting himself in good spots to tackle opponents that thought they had gotten clear out of a stoppage or contest, really driving them into the ground. Also showed some strong aerial strength, where he took some crucial marks, including one particularly impressive contested grab over a pack of four or five other players.

#19 Ashtyn Atkinson (Murray Bushrangers)

A real natural and crafty forward, Ashtyn finished the day with three goals from smart leads and positioning, but could have easily had 5 or 6 had his conversion from set shots been a little higher. The sheer amount of marks inside 50 he got was impressive, and highlighted his ability to lead to the right spots and get separation on those leads, with a quick first three-to-four steps being a big part of that.

#22 Ned Moodie (Dandenong Stingrays)

Despite being on the end of the Hollands’ clearance at the very start of the game, then passing it off to a teammate who kicked the opening goal, he was relatively quiet in the first half of the game where he spent most of his time up forward. It was in the second half when he be moved into the midfield where Moodie showed his potential as a big bodied inside ball winner. He won a few clearances and showed quick, clean hands on the run, as well as a high level work rate, often being involved multiple times in the same chain of play leading forward.

#25 Nate Pipicelli (Gippsland Power)

Played at both ends, kicking the first goal of the match but then going quiet for quite some time, before bobbing up to be one of the better players in the second half as the Country full back. It was there where he took some good intercept grabs in front of packs, but also knew not to get sucked into forming packs, holding out the back to take some easy grabs because everyone was caught too far in front. 

#26 Aaron Cadman (GWV Rebels)

Similar to Atkinson, Cadman just seemed to understand what was required of him as a forward, getting to the right spots to mark, or being in the right place at the right time to receive a handball to get himself a goal, ending the game with three.

#30 Jess McManus (Dandenong Stingrays)

Played in all thirds of the ground, starting as a defender where he took some good grabs working in front of his opponents, or spoiled strongly when stuck behind. Then moved into the ruck where he fought hard for front position in every battle, and followed up much better at ground level than his opponent, even getting himself some free kicks when tackling opponents who tried to get past him. Then moved into the forwardline where he showed a real prowess for leading into good spots with purpose.

Vic Metro:

#2 Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges)

It’s incredible that a player who is a year younger than those he’s playing against, and standing at only 168 cm, can have such a high level performance, arguably best afield for the match across both teams. Watson just consistently had a crack throughout the game, showing enormous bravery with his hunt for the ball, and going back with the flight to take strong marks multiple times – even having a few moments where his speed let him run a good 20-25 meters to take an intercept mark just outside of Metro’s forward 50, against opponents 20cm taller than him. He has blistering speed which allows him to get separation that not many others can, while also seeing him dash away from packs before anyone else has realised what’s happened. He was rewarded for such a well rounded performance with a goal in the third quarter, after setting up four or five himself.

#4 Reuben Rode (Calder Cannons)

The Essendon NGA prospect played up both ends and utilised his scintillating speed and agility to, at times, embarrass opponents with how well he managed to weave through traffic or take them on. His speed was his main weapon though, running head-on to spilled balls around the defensive 50 to then deliver kicks out to the wing, in an attempt to keep his disposals safe. When the ball was inside forward 50 he set up well on the outer, taking some uncontested intercept marks to deliver straight back inside.

#5 Blake Drury (Oakleigh Chargers)

Skipper for Metro in this game, Drury worked his way into the contest as it went on, where he eventually got his move into the midfield and decided he didn’t like other players winning clearances. There was a passage in the fourth quarter in particular, where it felt like he won six or seven clearances in a row, just reading the ball off the ruck tap exceptionally well, taking a few really quick steps to get space and momentum, before delivering long inside 50 to create pressure for the Country defence. Country rotated different players on him, but he just kept on doing it. Presented well as an option around the ground as well, using his kicking skill to move the ball more centrally going forward. 

#6 Alwyn Davey Jnr (Oakleigh Chargers)

Whilst not racking up the most ball of the day, he had some absolute moments of brilliance where you could see the excitement he’ll bring to the game in a few years. Clean below his knees, Davey took the ball with one grab consistently, showing amazing speed that he maintained even when turning 180 degrees. He took on opponents consistently with a few bounces and weaved here and there. Got a brilliant goal assist in the second quarter where he crumbed the ball perfectly from the pack and fired of a handball to a loose teammate who capitalised.

#8 Cooper Harvey (Northern Knights)

A game that was truly made up of two halves for Harvey. In the first half he played his usual role as a smaller forward target, capable of making smart and well timed leads, while linking up well with Nick Watson to get onto the end of some genuine bullet kicks – looking more than comfortable taking them out in front and on the chest. He didn’t always convert to goal, with a couple shots falling short but ending up in the right areas. The one attempt he did slot came from right in front after again leading well. In the second half, he moved into the rover role almost permanently, where that same marking prowess was dangerous and heavily utilised by Metro when looking to slow down the play. He’d look for options most others wouldn’t. In a game where long bombs were common, he lowered the eyes to hit leading targets or switch kick options which made him standout amongst the midfield group. 

#10 Darcy Edmends (Northern Knights)

The word ‘class’ gets thrown about a lot these days, but this kid genuinely demonstrates it in its truest form. Starting the game on the wing, Edmends used his composure well, timing his runs perfectly and holding space as to allow his teammates to break out if they could. If not, he would remain close enough to get the hands on the outside, where his kicking forward or across the ground was a treat to watch. Just had moments where he looked a class above anyone else in his area, with many plays where he was being closed in on by multiple opponents, but weaved through them like they were frozen in place. He was also the standout for drawing opponents in to give more space to teammates to run into, holding the ball until the very last second he could and then releasing, copping contact if needed. Moved into the backline in the second half, where he positioned well for uncontested chest marks.

#11 George Wardlaw (Oakleigh Chargers)

The standout inside midfielder for the game, Wardlaw is a commanding physical presence around stoppages, able to get to top speed with only a few steps. If he gets a clean run at the ball, you can chalk it in for a clearance, and if he doesn’t, you can guarantee that he’ll run through whoever is in the way to get it. What was most impressive was how clean and quick his hands were in-close, just knowing where his teammates were when he had the ball and firing out sharp and accurate handballs. While his kicking was rushed at times, he still got good distance and penetration to quickly move forward. Had a great show of courage in the third quarter, where he was playing as a defender, and went back with the flight of the ball in an attempt to mark it overhead, but collided heavily with a Country player. Not allowing this to stop his hunt for the ball, he then dived across to pick it up and handball to a teammate in the corridor, before going off for the rest of the game icing his calf.

#24 Matthew Jefferson (Oakleigh Chargers)

Does this kid have sticky hands or what? Seemed to mark any ball that was in the air within 10 meters of him, seriously challenging the Country defence as they rotated players constantly in an effort to disturb his aerial impact. Two of his three goals came directly from contested marks, and what would’ve been five or so scoring opportunities created from kicks he earned from marks. His ball use was good as well, putting it in front of teammates to run onto easily and take it on the chest. His three goals obviously suggest his set shots are reliable when he’s in range.

GAME TWO:

Vic Country 13.11 (89) def. Vic Country 8.10 (58)

By: Ed Pascoe

Vic Country:

#1 Jacob Konstanty (Gippsland Power)

The exciting small forward from Gippsland looked dangerous early, kicking his only two goals in the first quarter to get Country off to a great start. The 176cm pocket rocket showed he could make an impact overhead and at ground level, with his first goal coming from a nice lead up mark before the converted set shot from 40 metres, while a great snap goal in the pocket on his opposite foot highlighted his class. He wouldn’t add to his goal tally and was a bit quieter as the game went on, but he still showed great skill and forward pressure and could be a handful for Vic Country at the Under 17 championships.

#9 Jai McGough (Geelong Falcons)

The speedy small defender with the long sleeves had plenty of the ball, being trusted with kick-outs early in the game and showing great creativity and vision by foot. The 178cm McGough offered plenty of drive from half-back and wasn’t hard to miss with his speed. He would later bring those traits to the wing in the second half and would still win plenty of the ball and help drive it forward for Country, even having a running shot at goal despite missing. The Geelong Falcons prospect looks very exciting and one to keep an eye on with his dash.

#14 Jonti Schuback (Gippsland Power)

Usually a smooth moving midfielder for Gippsland Power, Schuback was used at half-back early on, offering plenty of skill and composure in the back half. Schuback started to look more damaging on a wing, kicking a behind from a long shot from 50, while a 50-metre penalty would give him his first goal which he slotted calmly. The 185cm prospect played a similar type of game to that of Josh Browne who is a 2021 prospect out of East Fremantle, and Schuback should be an important cog in Vic Country’s midfield depth during the Under 17 championships.

#17 Ted Clohesy (Geelong Falcons)

With a no-fuss haircut, the 182cm Geelong Falcons midfielder proved tough and damaging, playing a contested and efficient game through the midfield while also looking dynamic forward of centre, where he would kick two very nice goals. Despite a light frame, Clohesy wasn’t afraid of winning the hard ball and to balance out his contested side, he would use the ball well on the outside and really move it forward well. Clohesy did his chances of playing for Country at this year’s Under 17 carnival no harm.

#20 Brayden George (Murray Bushrangers)

Game 1 had a Murray Bushrangers forward at 185cm in Ashtyn Atkinson causing havoc, and Game 2 had his teammate in George do just that. The powerful medium forward kicked two goals in an impressive display. showing plenty of class. The first came from some intelligent work in open play; instead of rushing a snap, he quickly summed up is options and then straitened up to kick a nice drop punt goal. His second was also classy, kicking a great snap goal from a set shot, repeating what many AFL forwards seem to be doing this year. Murray Bushrangers will be a hard team to stop with both he and Atkinson providing plenty of excitement.

#25 Felix Fogarty (GWV Rebels)

The GWV Rebels key forward provided a great target for his midfielders leading up at the ball well and nailing his marks. Fogarty showed plenty of skill for a taller player as well, with the 197cm prospect really hitting his straps in the second quarter to show good agility to get around a man on the mark and kick a lovely set shot goal from 50 metres, which was his only major of the day. Fogarty will look to have a great forward partnership with fellow Rebel Aaron Cadman, not only for the Rebels but perhaps also for Vic Country at the Under 17 championships.

Vic Metro:

#9 Will Ashcroft (Sandringham Dragons)

The Sandringham prospect and son of gun former-Brisbane player Marcus Ashcroft was one of Metro’s best players, winning plenty of clearances and breaking away from congestion. Ashcroft is a talented midfielder much like his father was, and at 183cm looks a top prospect for the 2022 draft. He was able to kick his only goal in the first quarter with a free kick, but converted the set shot from 50 metres out, showing his great kicking skills. Ashcroft has a great mix of skill and burst from stoppages, which is a highly regarded trait. Ashcroft had a few shots at goal stopped on the line and he could have had a much bigger day, but he certainly looks like a player to watch at the upcoming Under 17 championships.

#10 Harry Sheezel (Sandringham Dragons)

Arguably the best small forward for Vic Metro over the two games, the 183cm Sandringham prospect looked dangerous whenever he was around the ball, showing clean hands and agility when in possession and finding the ball in dangerous situations. Sheezel showed great courage early, going the back with the flight to take a nice mark inside 50 and although he didn’t convert the set shot, he would kick his only two goals in the same quarter. One came from a free kick and another a nice shot on the run. Sheezel was quieter in the second half but he was able to show why he would be a player to watch for Vic Metro in the Under 17 championships.

#11 Luke Teal (Oakleigh Chargers)

The dynamic Oakleigh Charger started the game well at half-back, taking some nice intercept marks and playing on at every opportunity. Teal showed great movement in traffic and he would then use those traits in the midfield when he was moved into there in the second half, winning plenty of the ball and escaping congestion well, while also using his clean hands to his advantage. Teal looks like a player to watch for Vic Metro at the championships and he could play a variety of roles at 184cm.

#12 Zac Greeves (Eastern Ranges)

The Eastern Ranges prospect isn’t too dissimilar to Luke Teal in size and style and like Teal, showed some good form in all areas of the ground. A strong player at 185cm, Greeves showed a great willingness to take the game on and he moved well in traffic and looked a very composed player under pressure, willing to stay strong and brace for impact. Before the Under 17 championships start he will certainly be one to watch for Caulfield Grammar in the APS.

#21 Will Elliott (Oakleigh Chargers) 

The athletic young ruckman from Oakleigh Chargers had some real eye-catching moments both in the ruck and up forward. He had plenty of good moments on every line, with a strong contested intercept mark on the last line in defence during the third quarter and a nice bit of play in the last quarter showing good agility under pressure, along with good composure to then handpass to a teammate to set up a goal. Elliot might not be a starting ruck for Metro at the championships but he was able to show plenty of traits behind the play and up forward to make him a potentially versatile prospect at 200cm.